The Achievement Center at Fairview


“The moment I walked in the door of the Achievement Center, I found hope, acceptance and love,” says program participant John Omps. And right then, he needed a little bit of all three. Facing a dual diagnosis of Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis (MS), John was not sure what the future might hold.

His wife encouraged him to explore the Achievement Center—a facility program to help patients slow the progression of MS and other neurological diseases, through outpatient rehabilitation and a state-licensed day program. “I was very resistant to even check it out. I was afraid I was just going to see a rather depressing preview of what my life might be like in the future,” he recalls. “Boy, was I wrong.”

Thanks to donors, what John found instead was a supportive community backed by a team of therapists, social workers and other staff dedicated to meeting the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of patients living—and thriving—with a variety of neurological conditions.

Slowing disease progression

Now, John is a program regular. Participating in the day program two days a week, he takes advantage of all the Achievement Center has to offer. “What a thief MS is,” says John. “It has taken away my balance, my stride, my ability to hold things. The disease has made me a walking monologue of symptoms,” says John.

To help delay the onset of such symptoms and to stave off disease progression, the Achievement Center offers customized physical therapy and fitness classes. For example, John continues to work on assisted walking and gait training with the help of parallel bars. “Physical therapy is one of the key components of what we offer,” says Heidi Elm, day program director. “The old adage, ‘use it or lose it’ is extremely apt when talking about neurological diseases and we don’t want our participants to lose any flexibility or function if we can prevent or delay it.”

Creating camaraderie

In addition to physical therapy, the Achievement Center also offers occupational and recreational therapy activities, counseling and socialization opportunities. “Our participants are really close—for some, their time spent here is the only time they are out of the house all week. Because of that sense of camaraderie, they can really motivate each other in both their therapy work and in facing day-to-day challenges,” says Heidi.

Help the community grow

Thanks to donors, this life-changing program is accessible to even more individuals than ever before. Because of donor generosity, the Achievement Center is able to offer a sliding fee scale as well as scholarship dollars to make their services available to individuals who would otherwise not be able to afford to participate. And, according to John, the simple gift of participation is one of the greatest gifts the Achievement Center has to offer. “The strength of this program is in the collective strength of those who come—the wisdom, love and sense of belonging that is cultivated here,” says John.

Learn more and give: 

5 Reasons to Have a Primary Care Doctor


Like your car, or pets – your health requires routine, preventive maintenance. Family medicine providers play an important role in your health and wellness. Lynne Fiscus, MD, regional medical director at Fairview, shares five reasons you should have a primary care doctor.

1.  We know you!
Having a primary care provider means having someone that knows your history, your family’s history, and your health goals.  All of these factors play into the treatment plan that we develop together.

2. Accurate diagnosis
A doctor who sees you regularly is more likely to notice changes in your health.

3. Health maintenance
Primary care providers focus on keeping you healthy, not just diagnosing illnesses. Prevention is always the best medicine and your doctor will work with you to screen for troubling conditions, such as diabetes, high blood pressure or cholesterol or cancers and help you manage and live with any chronic conditions you may have.  Research shows that people who have an ongoing relationship with a primary care provider have better overall health outcomes, lower death rates and lower total costs of health care.

4. One point person
When you need to see a specialist, your doctor can point you in the right direction. Since symptoms can have a lot of possible explanations, your doctor can recommend a specialist and coordinate your care.

5.  Everybody gets sick
Unfortunately, it’s true; everyone does get sick.  And who wants to spend time searching for a primary care provider when you are already feeling under the weather? Whether its sinus congestion that just isn’t improving, an upset stomach, or sore throat, we are here when you need us.

What to look for
Look for someone who listens to you, puts you at ease and who is interested in your well-being. You want to be able to talk comfortably about any concerns you may have.  We encourage you to view our doctor’s biographies online – many have video biographies to help you get to know them. Just choose a clinic location, click on care team and choose a doctor to view.

Clinics close to you
Fairview offers more than 40 convenient clinic locations, many with extended hours. We offer 24/7 scheduling by phone at 855-FAIRVIEW and online at


Say Hello to Amy Feeder, Child Family Life Supervisor


What motivated you to become a certified child life specialist? Why are you passionate about your position? It wasn’t until my sophomore year of college that I learned about the Child Life profession. I had switched my major a few times, but knew I definitely wanted to work with kids and was drawn to the healthcare field. My “ah-ha” moment happened in a Developmental Psychology course where I learned about Child Life. I love helping kids and families. Some days are much harder than others, but it’s a very rewarding job and I get to have a lot of fun with patients! I have been a Certified Child Life Specialist for the past 5 years. I worked on the Blood & Marrow Transplant Unit at the U of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital for the past 3 ½ years and I am now the Child Family Life Supervisor at Fairview Ridges Hospital. Child Life Specialists work with pediatric patients and families to provide developmentally appropriate learning opportunities to reduce fears and maximize coping before, during, and after medical experiences.

What’s your favorite Fairview moment?

One of my favorite moments was helping create and organize a Flash Mob on Superhero Day at UMMCH. I have also loved being a facilitator for SibShops, a support program for siblings of children with healthcare needs. I am very excited to be part of a group creating a smart phone/tablet application that will be available this winter for parents to help prepare their children for hospital experiences (the app will be called “Passport to University of MN Masonic Children’s Hospital” and will be available on iTunes and the Google Play store). My favorite memories are working 1:1 with patients and families. Kids are amazingly strong and resilient. It’s a privilege to prepare them for a medical experience or teach them a new coping technique and see them succeed with a procedure.

What do you love about working at Fairview? I love that Fairview has such a strong connection with the University of Minnesota. In my previous role as the Child Life Specialist on the Blood and Marrow Transplant unit at UMMCH, every day I saw firsthand the lifesaving research that UM Physicians are doing! At Fairview Ridges, I love the sense of community. Everyone knows everyone and all members of the interdisciplinary team work in collaboration with nurses and physicians. It’s a hospital and system I’m proud to work at and proud to receive care at.

What distinguishes you from other Certified Child Life Specialists in your field? What approaches do you take? Child Life Specialists are challenged every day with how to help patients cope with different procedures and medical experiences. We all have to think creatively on how to quickly build rapport with a patient and provide the right teaching and distraction so that the patient will be able to cope with a procedure. I love that we all think differently and provide a wide range of therapeutic interventions for the same procedure. We then often share these intervention ideas so that they could be helpful for someone else. It’s great to have multiple preparation and distraction ideas because what works for one kid might not work for another.


Interested in a career at Fairview? Explore opportunities here: 


Holiday Workshop for Grieving Families

Youth Grief Services is hosting a free workshop for families who are preparing for the holiday season after experiencing the death of a loved one.

When: Sunday December 7th, 2014 - 4:00-6:30pm

Where: Fairview Education Center (152 Cobblestone Lane Burnsville, Minn.)

Activities will include arts and crafts, games, dinner, and opportunities to share ideas and conversation with others navigating the holidays after a loved one has died.

Youth Grief Services is part of Fairview Health Services. It provides free support to families through support groups, summer camp and individual assistance. The program is supported by Fairview Health Services and Fairview Foundation.

Youth Grief Services website has additional information about its programs.

Families are asked to register by December 3, 2014, by emailing or call Youth Grief Services at 952-892-2111.

Common Scents and Their Powerful Therapies

Sandy McGurran with patient Mavis

“The power of aromatherapy is impressive, and the cost is minimal,” says Sandy Mcgurran, social worker, shown here with patient Mavis.

We’re entering the season of enticing smells: Mom’s sage dressing, pumpkin pie, hot chocolate. The holiday season proves that scents can be powerful triggers of emotion, memory and mood.

That’s one reason why Fairview Home Care and Hospice uses aromatherapy in its Integrative Therapies program.

More than 350 home care and hospice visiting clinicians have been trained on using aromatherapy.

An internal survey shows 83 percent of patients who tried lavender inhalation felt reduced anxiety afterward, while 94 percent of patients who sniffed peppermint oil reported reduced nausea and 69 percent experienced a decrease in pain with lavender and/or peppermint oils.

“The power of these essential oils is impressive, and the cost is minimal,” says Sandy Mcgurran, social worker and and integrative therapies educator.

“Many of my patients have shared with me that they experienced immediate relief of anxiety and nausea following brief inhalation of lavender or peppermint oil.”

Help from Fairview Foundation

In 2012, Home Care and Hospice received a $5,000, three-year grant from Fairview Foundation’s Greatest Needs fund to purchase aromatherapy supplies, like oils and inhalation cups.

All Home Care and Hospice patient care staff are equipped with a one bottle each of lavender and peppermint essential oils, cotton balls to pour the oil onto and sealable cups to let patients enjoy aromatherapy for up to two weeks.

Other sites around Fairview use aromatherapy, too, including University of Minnesota Masonic Children’s Hospital and some Ebenezer assisted-living facilities.

Not cures, but therapies

Americans are learning that prescriptions aren’t the only ways to ease pain, control nausea or boost your mood: In 2007, Americans spent $33.9 billion out-of-pocket on complementary and alternative medicines, such as aromatherapy and acupuncture.

“We’re very careful to say that essential oils aren’t substitutes; they’re additional therapies,” says Sue Sheppard, director of Home Care.

“Essential oils won’t cure disease, but they can help keep patients more comfortable and calm, which will encourage their bodies to work better with their doctor-prescribed treatments.”

‘The little things make a difference’

Home care patient Ann Ebner, 71, inhales peppermint oil daily to calm her nerves and decrease nausea.

“It’s not a medicine, it’s psychological, and I think it really does help,” she says. “It’s the little things that make a difference.”

She adds, “It’s good to know there are people who are trying to find ways to feel better without traditional medicine.”

Caregivers who have used aromatherapy appreciate having another tool in their toolkit to help patients manage symptoms like nausea, anxiety and pain.

“As a hospice nurse, integrated therapies have enhanced my practice,” says Niels Billund, RN.

“This has opened a door to a rich subset of ideas that spring up when I run out of traditional, medical options to manage uncontrolled symptoms of pain, shortness of breath, anxiety, fear and/or agitation.”